MYSTERY BAY to the 200 locals who live there is a treasure trove of bays, inlets, unique rock formations and a stunning spotted gum forest.
Mystery Bay features a camping area in the Eurobodalla National Park. The extensive campground fronts the ocean and is one of the few natural camping areas remaining on NSW’s south coast. It is only a short distance off the Princes Highway, but could be a million miles from anywhere.
The area is quite large with camp sites scattered throughout the native bush of mainly spotted gums, with acacias and banksias closer to the spectacular cliff headlands and small beaches.
There is no town and there are no shops. There is poor telephone and internet reception. To many it might seem a location to just drive by however to international visitors and Grey Nomads plying the Eastern Australian coastline Mystery Bay is a haven that they want to keep as a secret.
There is sheltered swimming in natural pools formed by the rock formations along the beach and if a north easterly is blowing 1080 Beach to the south is suggested.
MYSTERY BAY is named after a mystery that few know the details of. The discovery of a holed fishing boat on rocks at Mutton Fish Point (also called Corunna Point) on Sunday, 10 October 1880, alerted the world to one of the south coast’s most curious mysteries. Before then, Mystery Bay was called Mutton Fish Bay because of its plentiful abalone (mutton fish). It became known as Mystery Bay after the fateful day when a boat was discovered.
On 10 October 1880 near Bermagui, five men vanished forever in what became one of Australia's most baffling sea mysteries. Within a few hours of their reported disappearance an intensive search commenced and continued for many months. No trace of them, or clues to the mystery of their disappearance, were ever found.
Gold had been discovered at a place called Montreal, near Bermagui, and the Mines Department sent Lamont Young, one of its geologists, to inspect and report on the find. He was accompanied by a German friend, Louis Schneider, a botanist. After arriving at Batemans Bay by steamer, they secured a boat and crew of three to row them to the gold fields. However, Young apparently changed his plans for after 4 pm on the Saturday he was not seen again. At about 7 am on the Sunday morning his rowing boat, a green eight-metre boat, was seen by several residents leaving Bermagui and others noticed it as it moved slowly north along the coast.
At about 4 pm that afternoon a man riding along the coast found the boat on the rocks at Mutton Fish Point, about fifteen kilometres north of Montreal, but there was no trace of any of the men who had left that morning. Police who hurried to the scene and examined the boat noted that it had been carefully steered through about 70 metres of jagged rocks. There were four large holes in the hull but the planking had been stove out, not in.
On the seats were bait, a pocket knife, pipe and tobacco, crumbs and other food. There was a bag of potatoes and a bag of mixed personal articles like clothing, bedding, tools and sundries. The anchor and stern lines were missing but some large stones had been placed in the boat. Scattered on the beach nearby were a pipe, sheath knife, an axe and shovel. Other items which may have had a link with the mystery were three mother of pearl studs, portion of a meal and three cigar butts.
Young, Schneider and the three boatmen were not at Bermagui and were never heard of again. The memorial was unveiled on 10 October 1980 by the Minister for Mineral Resources, R J Mulock. Perhaps the unsolved answer still lies near Mystery Bay. Perhaps one day someone will stumble across the remains which may provide the answer to what happened at Mystery Bay one hundred years ago.
There is a sandstone boulder with metal plaque that stands as a Mystery Bay Memorial in Lamont Young Drive: The memorial has regional historic significance for its role in commemorating the unique and mysterious disappearance of the five men and providing evidence of the site at which their boat and some personal items were found. The memorial ensures that this baffling sea mystery is remembered in the South Coast region.